Nvidia strides into low-power chips with Tegra

Tegra is a tiny chip for mobile devices

Graphics behemoth Nvidia has aimed another salvo at more established CPU vendors by unveiling its new Tegra processors at Computex in Taiwan.

The new chips are designed to power low-cost PCs and internet devices, just like Intel’s Atom processor. Nvidia is also including its APX 2500 mobile graphics chip under the Tegra branding. That silicon was announced at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The new Tegra 650 runs at 800 MHz, supports resolutions up to 1680 x 1050 and full 1080p HD.

Despite the chip’s name constantly reminding us of the hairdresser-tastic Vauxhall Tigra, it’s actually a tasty bit of mobile kit. The chip utilises an ARM11 core and can run Windows CE or Windows Mobile. It’s designed to be able to play back HD video.

“Creating Tegra was a massive challenge. Our vision was to create a platform that will enable the second personal computer revolution – which will be mobile centric, with devices that last days on a single charge, and yet has the web, high definition media, and computing experiences we’ve come to expect from our PC,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s president.

“Tegra is a completely ground-up computer-on-a-chip architecture that consumes 100 times less power. Mobile internet and computing devices built with Tegra are going to be magical.”

Smartphone or MID?

Maybe, but we’re unconvinced about the potential for mobile internet devices when we already have phones that can do the same thing. At least Nvidia, unlike Intel, isn’t going completely down the Mobile Internet Device (MID) route.

Tegra seems to be yet another attack on Intel by Nvidia. Nvidia has recently been rather critical of the company. The Tegra will seek to undercut the pricing of Intel’s Menlow MID platform.

The announcement is good news for our friends at Cambridge-based ARM, whose mobile stomping ground is being green-eyed by every other chip manufacturer out there.

We’re meeting with Nvidia on Friday, so we’ll have a lot more news for you on Tegra then.

Full specs of the Tegra 650:

  • All-day media processing, for 130 hours audio, 30 hours HD video playback
  • HD image processing for advanced digital still camera and HD camcorder functions
  • Optimized hardware support for Web 2.0 applications for a true desktop-class internet experience
  • Display support for 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD and CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV-Out
  • Direct support for WiFi, disk drives, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals
  • A complete Board Support Package (BSP) to enable fast times to market for Windows Mobile-based designs

Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.